One of the ultimate driving challenges has returned to Manila, Philippines. Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2016 brings together nearly 120 student teams from schools and universities in 17 countries. All have taken up the challenge of designing and building the most energy-efficient cars.

Engineers of the future

This year, more than 20 new teams join the Asia competition – one of three worldwide, including events in Europe and the Americas. In the lead-up to the track event, these potential automotive engineers of the future spend long days in the paddock tweaking and testing their three- and four-wheeled innovations.

One car is made entirely from recycled materials including motorbike parts. Another is 3D-printed, with a computer-controlled system that can send daily jokes to the driver.
Most students hope to set new records, driving as far as they can on the smallest amount of energy. Others are there to learn from the tough technical inspections and from more experienced teams.

Two categories

Teams compete in two categories. In the Prototype category, drivers squeeze into low-slung cars, lying on their backs to steer around the track. In the UrbanConcept category, cars look more familiar, sometimes with several seats. Built for the real world, their extra weight can make them less fuel-efficient than Prototype cars, but they are still able to achieve impressive results.

When the race begins, teams power their cars along the Manila street circuit on fuels that range from hydrogen and battery power, to traditional fuels as well as alternatives such as ethanol. A team of technical experts calculate the amount of energy cars use to get around the track and identify how far they could travel on the equivalent of a single litre of gasoline.

It’s not about speed, it’s about energy-efficiency.

Winning awards

Teams win awards on the track, but also off it – for their approach to safety, vehicle design and technical innovation, and their ability to run a good promotional campaign. Judges give a special award for perseverance and spirit.

Thailand provided the most top performers in 2015. Team Virgin from Sakonnakhon Technical College was best in the Prototype category. Its ethanol-powered car rode the equivalent of 1,572 kilometres per litre, the same distance as from Manila to Ho Chi Min City in Vietnam.

The UrbanConcept car from Team LH – Gold Energy of Lac Hong University, Vietnam, drove to victory in their category with 164 km/l equivalent, also using ethanol, marking the country’s first win in the competition.

Drivers’ World Championship

This year, top performers will travel to London to compete in the first Shell Eco-marathon Drivers’ World Championship for UrbanConcept vehicles, taking place after the final of Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2016 in July.

The all-expenses-paid trip will see them compete alongside Shell Eco-marathon teams from the Americas and Europe to find out who is the world’s most energy-efficient driver. That winner will be announced in early July.

Read more about the Drivers’ World Championship

More in Shell Eco-Marathon

For Asia participants

If you’re a participant or want to join Shell Eco-marathon Asia, see all you need to know about the competition.